President's Report: Seafarers to the Rescue

 

March 2012

 

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SIU President Michael Sacco discusses a recent rescue and new tonnage

 

On behalf of the union’s entire executive board, I extend our thanks and congratulations to all mariners who were aboard the SIU-crewed Horizon Reliance during last month’s remarkable rescue of three recreational sailors near Hawaii. I know you’ve already received many accolades, and you deserve every one of them. Your performance under life-and-death pressure was nothing short of extraordinary.

 

At the same time, while the details of the rescue certainly were incredible, the effort and

sacrifice of the SIU crew and the officers was nothing new. It’s all part of our union’s motto, Brotherhood of the Sea, and you better believe it was on display when the Reliance came to the rescue on February 8.

 

For instance, Seafarers LOG readers may remember that it was only one month ago when I got to commend the SIU-crewed Ocean Titan for its dramatic rescue. And, we reported on rescues performed by three other SIU vessels in the prior year.

 

Reading some of the quotes after the Horizon Reliance rescue, I was glad to see crew members mentioning the value of their safety training, both at our affiliated school in Piney Point, Md., and aboard the vessel. Learning those types of specific skills is like having insurance – you hope you never have to use them, but if that moment arrives, being properly prepared is priceless.

 

Once again, my hat goes off to the entire crew, and I hope everyone will read our coverage of the rescue in this edition.

 

New Tonnage


Not all of the good news this month is nearly as dramatic as a nighttime rescue, but Seafarers undoubtedly are also happy to see the arrival of the containership MV Carat, one of the latest additions to the SIU-crewed fleet. This isn’t replacement tonnage but rather an outright addition, so it’s an especially positive development.

 

We constantly work for exactly this type of acquisition – new tonnage and new jobs for Seafarers. It’s never easy, but one of the main things that makes our success possible is the professionalism of SIU crews. In that regard, I’m not really talking about headline-grabbing stories like rescues, but rather the day-to-day dependability of our union brothers and sisters. No one would invest in building or bringing a ship under the American flag unless they were absolutely sure they could secure reliable crews. And that’s exactly what we deliver.


Going hand-in-hand with those efforts are contract negotiations, and 2012 promises to be quite busy on that front. I mentioned this at last month’s membership meeting in Piney Point and it’s worth repeating here: We are going to be aggressive in negotiations, and at the same time we are going to be realistic. We want to secure agreements that properly compensate SIU members while also being fair to the companies.

 

These negotiations will be taking place against the looming backdrop of a still-lousy economy, so I think the parties on both sides of the table will have their work cut out for them. We’re up to the challenge, and we’ll be reporting the results throughout the year.

 

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